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Tokyo's Ueno zoo reopens after 5-month pandemic hiatus, delighting panda fans

People are seen entering Ueno Zoological Gardens after the facility reopened on June 4, 2021, in this photo taken in Tokyo's Taito Ward. (Mainichi/Naoaki Hasegawa)

TOKYO -- Ueno Zoological Gardens in the capital's Taito Ward reopened on June 4 after a five-month closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, welcoming back visitors braving the drizzle that morning.

    Some 180 people lined up in front of the facility since before its opening at 9:30 a.m. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, entry will be limited to 2,000 visitors per day for the time being, with advance bookings required. The zoo closes at 5 p.m.

    One visitor, Mayu Sugimoto, 32, an annual passport holder from Tokyo's Bunkyo Ward, had been watching videos posted by the zoo on social media showing its female giant panda Xiang Xiang during its closure. "I looked at the real thing (today) and it had grown up even more. It was so cute that I was thrilled," she said.

    Also the same day, the zoo revealed that its female giant panda Shin Shin has shown signs of pregnancy. Public display of the animal was accordingly suspended.

    As part of efforts to prevent visitors from crowding inside the facility, the operator of the zoo has issued numbered tickets with a designated time so entry will be limited to 350 people every hour.

    (Japanese original by Taisuke Shimabukuro, Tama General Bureau, and Richi Tanaka, Tokyo City News Department)

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